Manzanilla Arboledilla Levante y Poniente

In my opinion Barbadillo don’t get the credit they deserve and I am not sure why. They produce quality wines across the range, the Solear en rama series is a masterpiece, Pastora is a gem and lately they have been producing some really interesting stuff: the Beta bubbly and Nude tintilla to start with but even more so their spikey, spicey white wine Mirabras and the cracking Zerej boxed sets.

And now these Arboledilla wines – which have been around for a while but which I only came across in Reserva y Cata recently. It is yet another fascinating project and an attempt to demonstrate the power of the “other terroir” – the bodega. Specifically, these are two manzanillas of the same age and from the same solera (the Solear en rama if I am not mistaken) which is housed in a famous old bodega called Arboledilla. What is fascinating about them is that one of the bottles – “Levante” (sunrise) – is taken from a butt at the Eastern extreme of the bodega, while the other – “Poniente” (sunset) – is taken from the Western end. The idea is to demonstrate the effects of small climactic differences within the bodega itself.

They are both zingy, high intensity manzanillas and the differences are pretty subtle. Having said that, you can definitely detect a sharper, finer and more vertical style in the Poniente (which I am guessing is the cooler end of the bodega), and a slightly richer, wilder style in the Levante, which certainly has a hint more sweetness on the nose.

Really interesting stuff and definitely worth trying (if you think about it the worst that can happen is that you end up with two bottles of a classic manzanilla).


#4GWFEST2018 – Part 4 – the Callejuela single vineyard manzanillas

There is just so much to like about Bodegas la Callejuela. It is hard to think of a more likeable couple of blokes than these big, friendly guys, and although at first glance they don’t look like the kind of hipsters you would imagine revolutionizing the scene in Jerez I can tell you noone is doing more than they are.

To start with they have a quality bodega with a really solid range of wines, from the unfortified blanco de hornillos via the manzanilla fina, manzanilla madura, manzanilla en rama, amontillado, and oloroso all the way up to the outstanding older wines, Blanquito, La Casilla and the unbelievable El Cerro (and the PX). But they are a lot more than a bodega with a good range. They are the source of the wine which, with the help of a touch of Ramiro Ibañez magic, has become one of the truly iconic projects of the new Jerez – the Manzanilla de Añada 2012 -, they were involved in the Manifesto 119 and have since launched a range of unfortified vineyard specific white wines that for me are really pitch perfect. These guys really get it.

I have already had the chance to write about their latest releases – first at the bar of the late, beloved Territorio Era, and later at an excellent event organized by Montenegro vinos. They are single vineyard manzanillas, and in fact they are also single vintage wines – from 2014-, although they are not able to market them as such since not all “i”s were dotted and “t”s crossed, so at the time I first wrote about them I called them something different. Anyway here they are, resplendent at the Cuatrogatos Wine Fest with their clear bottles (which I personally think is a quality touch), classy new labels and their official title of “manzanilla” (a reminder once again that although two of the three are from Jerez vineyards, what counts is where they are made into wine for these purposes).

And three quality wines too. The Callejuela (vineyard) is the most biological of the three with haybales on the nose, a touch more zing and a sharper profile. The Macharnudo is absolute class, with that aromatic and metallic mineral quality and an elegant, compact shape, while the Añina is even visibly more evolved, slightly oxidated, smooth but nevertheless fresh.

I find it very hard to choose between the three of them, I must admit. Perhaps I need to try them again!



Manzanilla madura Callejuela

The author was in need of refreshment after slogging his way across Madrid to Kulto for a bite to eat recently and this glass of manzanilla madura by the guys at Callejuela ticked the box.

This is the more serious of the two standard manzanillas (as opposed to the En Rama, the Añada and the exceptional Blanquito) and has slightly more weight behind it. As you can see it is a very slightly greenish gold in colour and it has a bit of that greenery on the nose: a little bit grassy and herby with maybe slightly older apples underneath.

On the palate it is sharp and fresh, with a zing of salinity then has some heft, with a slightly bitter apple flavour and leafy notes on top before a fresh, fluid finish.

Gabriela Oro in Media Ración

A quick pre-Reyes lunch in the marvellous bistro Media Ración with an absolutely outstanding bacalao al ajorrariero – the best I can remember – and this classic manzanilla from classic Sanlúcar bodega Sanchez Ayala.

Just look at that colour – the lighting may have helped but there are no filters above, just pure liquid gold in the glass. On the nose it is salty sea air and slightly musty esparto grass, with more and more almond coming through the longer it is in the glass (and when the glass is empty). On the palate this is punchier than I recall in the past, with a real zing of salinity first up, then super dry, smokey and toasty almond flavours before a gunpowder salty finish.

Really delicious, and although everyone seems to debate between sweet wines of every kind, the nutty flavours of the last sip went beautifully with the roscón de reyes that my hosts very kindly gave me.

On another note, these wines from Sanchez Ayala have a real personality that previously I had always attributed to the location and techniques in solera, but in a recent chat with the bodega I learned that all the wines are sourced from a single vineyard: las Cañas in Balbaina Alta, a fact which curiously doesn’t feature in the marketing of the wine. Come on guys, don’t be shy, take pride in your roots!